Setup for scenario one: civilian escort.
In the first scenario a lone x-wing is trying to escort a civilian transport to the other table edge while accosted by two TIE fighters. As written it's a basic scenario with no extra equipment or named pilots, but even so the game is fun! In my first game against Anders I managed to blow up both his TIEs in two turns and we thought "that was quick!". Of course, we totally missed that the imperial player gets reinforcements in that scenario and we also, for some reason, got the notion that a TIE only has two hull points instead of three.
I played the same scenario against Kosta today and it was a very different experience! I played as the Imperials this time while Kosta took control of the single Red Squadron pilot. I flew straight at the x-wing with both TIEs, aiming to cripple it early in the game. I managed to strip both his shield and doing one damage while not taking any damage in return! However as we closed in on each other further some accurate rebel fire severely damaged my academy pilot's fighter and he desperately turned right to get out of the x-wing's firing arc!
My obsidian squadron pilot raced past the rebel ship and fired a salvo at the transport, bringing it down to half hull points. So far, reasonably good! During the next couple of turns my damaged tie made a koiogran turn (Immelman) and started heading back into the fight. In the meantime the obsidian pilot continued to stay close on the transport, firing at every opportunity, but that thing had some kind of hot shot pilot behind the stick since it managed to swerve and jinx in a most un-transport like way!
The x-wing was hot on the obsidian TIE's tail and it wasn't long until it was simply dust floating through space (target lock is powerful!). The transport was nearing the opposite table edge now and would probably make it off in another couple of turns. I would be able to bring on a reinforcement TIE though so I was still in the fight! My damaged academy pilot had finally got back into the fight and the x-wing was just within long range of its cannons. I didn't expect to do any damage at this range (two attack dice vs three defence dice) but in a stroke of luck I rolled two damage and Kosta rolled... nothing! Ka-boom! Of course, I still had to destroy the transport to win, but considering the escort was gone and that I had reinforcements arriving just in front of the transport we called it as an Imperial victory. This time we forgot about the special defence manuver the x-wing can do, providing the transport with evade tokens.
In the second scenario I played as Luke Skywalker himself as he was hiding in an asteroid field, trying to repair his ship so he could escape into hyperspace. Naturally, the Empire was not about to let that happen and sent Dark Curse and "Mauler" Mithel to take care of it. Luke had to hold out for five turns where he couldn't go faster than speed 2, and then escape off any table edge.
Target loking "Mauler" Mithel didn't do much good as he stayed behind me...
The two TIEs came at me from two different directions. I target locked "Mauler" and then headed towards Dark Curse and came out of the asteroid field blasting! I hit Dark Curse but not enough to destroy him. Fortunately for me he took care of this himself as in his next maneuver, obviously disoriented from the attack, he flew straight into a nearby asteroid and exploded into a million pieces! Pew-pew! Boom!
"Mauler" was a different matter entirely though. He managed to get in close, netting him four attack dice, and cause some serious damage! His speed was a bit too high though and he overshot Luke as he banked right and headed towards the hyperspace point. The ship was repaired and I just had to leave off a table edge. I still had two hull points left and "Mauler" was some ways off behind me. This was looking good! Anders fired a pot shot at the far-off x-wing and rolled two hits while I rolled... nothing! Luke got blown up and another win to the Empire!
Like I said, even playing like this with basic pilots with no upgrades we had a blast! It plays quickly but there are still all kinds of tactical decisions to make during your turn. Trying to predict your opponent's moves as well as deciding what action to take and how to use it to best effect. We bungled the first game but the other two were both very close fought affairs! Two lucky long ranged shots ended both games, but those seemed like flukes to us and we were all fairly surprised when it happened! Cool though. :)
It seems to me like the game is weighed in the attackers favour. While you can absolutely escape unharmed with some lucky dice rolling I think you can expect some damage to be done in most attacks at favourable ranges. This is a good thing though as the games become fast and action packed! Nothing is more boring than firing away at each other and nothing happens (this might be a problem for Empire vs Empire).
I've got the X-Wing expansion on its way as well as three Y-Wings. I just couldn't help myself, I really love those big burly things! And who can say no to a 360° firing ion cannon?! The basic game mechanics are solid and makes for a fun game, and on top of that there is the whole pilot/equipment/skills combo game that I think will be a blast to explore. I've already started thinking about different 'combos' and which pilots have good synergy together. I really want to try out some Astromech droids and proton torpedoes as well!
A proper review will follow after I have some more games under my belt.